Menswear’s new print affair – florals up by 130%

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Prints with strong personality are not a new concept in menswear: florals are always somewhere on the spring/summer bill and strong stripes and checks also have huge commercial impact within menswear. However, in recent seasons the emphasis on powerful prints has ramped up, both on runway and in store. What’s shifted in the menswear market to pave the way for a more playful relationship with print? And where do the best market opportunities lie? We dipped into our vast database to find out more.

Florals strong on all markets segments

Florals were big news on the SS14 runway having built upon SS13′s strong base of bold and bright florals from the likes of Versace, and Fall 13′s digital florals seen at Katie Eary and John Richmond. The print has gone from being a minute token reference each spring, to headline print status. That’s translated exceptionally well commercially. 29% of this season’s menswear florals on the mass market are Hawaiian or tropical prints – a story which has been given strong backing by the press and has featured in the advertising campaigns of Guess, Prada, Adidas and Pull and Bear. River Island, Ted Baker, Paul Smith and ASOS are the current top 4 retailers of floral prints for men. Top Moving products have been Hawaiian print short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts for the mass market, and Givenchy’s patchwork floral print has flown on the luxury market.

Trends in new products arriving into store in the last two weeks have been floral printed denim shirts for the mass market and micro florals for both mass and luxury. But floral prints aren’t the only popular menswear story. We’re seeing statement menswear items in camouflage and geometrics also seeing dramatic lifts in number of new product arriving into stores. The graph to the right shows the number of new menswear floral, geo and camo products arriving online each month of the last year. All three have seen a dramatic lift, with geometrics seeing the biggest increase in new drops at a 235% lift from April 2013.

Interest in camouflage prints kicked in sooner – you see the spike in increases during Fall 2013. The good news is that camo products eased off during the sales, and have therefore retained their trend-forward value for the new season. Indeed, of the three prints analyzed here, camo has the highest replenishment rate: 7% of all products currently available have been restocked. Another metric which suggests that camo still sees room for growth is the market segmentation of the trend. Whilst the mass market is (as with most trends) the biggest current market for camo products, its proportion is 10% less than geo or floral, with the premium market making up for most of the 10%. Camo’s high average price point, $239, backs this up and is an encouraging sign that there will be furthered success here.

Florals have an average price of $179 and a low rate of discounting. The print has seen 130% increase in new product drops from 1 year ago. Geo has the lowest average price, at $157 but is still very young in it’s product life cycle – menswear stripes for example have an average price of $147.

Market Opportunity

The good news is that these strong prints are not a slipstream trend for the menswear market. Trend forward, yet far-reaching menswear retailers like ASOS, Topman, H&M, Urban Outfitters and Mr Porter have all given their backing to big print stories, thus becoming educators for the market, facilitating the growth in commercial activity. In the past few years, feature prints have been warmed up by the popularity of increasingly bold slogan tees.

Meanwhile, the menswear sock category has done a fantastic job in getting the male shopper interested in conversational prints – in the past five years, men’s socks have been an incredibly, and perhaps surprisingly fast moving category, experimenting with high fashion prints long before some of the more noticeable categories attempt to invest. The male shopper enjoyed the kitsch appeal of fun printed socks, testing their interest in this low-priced item. Those types of prints have grown in confidence and visibility and are now able to play out across shirts, tees and even outerwear as the recent flurry of printed bomber jackets has demonstrated.

The Fall 2014 runways showed yet further experimentation and boldness of menswear print. Graphic landscapes, paint effects, artistic prints and reworked checks were all well-backed by high-end designers. With retailers seeing womenswear print stories such as leopard and monochrome selling so well, we expect menswear retailers to pick up on these high-end prints faster and faster. Replacing the hugely successful color blocking, the contrast sleeve or pocket tee will see the swiftest commercial return.

Under-communicated trend

While the commercial data speaks clearly and points precisely to the areas of growth and opportunity in menswear prints, our Visual Merchandising tool, which tracks the email and website updates from hundreds of global brands and retailers, suggests the trend is being under-communicated. There has been minimal referencing of strong prints in the email newsletters of Topman, Mr Porter and Burton, who usually communicate the latest trends very well. Bonobos and Matches have probably done best at promoting floral prints to their consumers. Retailers, we have evidence the demand is there and the trend timing is right, it’s time to get pushing those prints into the inboxes of your male shoppers!

EDITD customers can view full analysis of the print revolution, starting with a Trend Watch report, here.

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